Verifying the right to rent is a legal requirement for landlords in the UK and must be done with all potential tenants. Normally, the owner will be responsible for performing this verification even when they hire an agent to manage their properties for them. However, it is possible to transfer the responsibility of performing a verification of the right to rent to an agent, but this must be done in writing and cannot be verbally agreed. If the verification of your tenant's right to rent indicates that they have no right to rent in the UK, it is essential that you do not continue with the lease.
Your agreements with the building owner must ensure that all gas appliances, flues and common pipes that your tenants can use are properly maintained and that their safety is checked by the building owner. Failure to carry out this check can result in fines of up to £3,000 per occupant without the right to rent or, potentially, a prison sentence of up to five years. If your tenant can prove that they are entitled to rent using an accepted original document, you cannot insist that they use the online service. If tenants have a permanent right to rent, landlords only have to check the documents once, before the original lease begins.
If you are unable to use the government's online service, you must check the documents in person with the presence of the document owner. The responsibility for this control lies with the owner, even if they have trusted an agent to manage their properties for them. The landlord or a gas engineer, with the landlord's consent, can send or deliver a copy of the electronic record directly to the tenant, provided that the tenant is satisfied with this agreement and can access it. The contract you sign with your tenant should allow you to access any maintenance or security control work that needs to be done.
As a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure that the tenant who rents from you has the “right to rent” in the UK. While online reference providers verify the identity of applicants by asking applicants to upload identity documents, this is not enough to confirm that applicants are entitled to rent in the UK. In these cases, rights holders must take effective measures (for example, through close cooperation and a clear allocation of responsibilities under contractual agreements) to ensure that requirements are fully met. The responsibility for ensuring that this control is carried out lies with you (as the owner).
However, leasing agents can also carry out checks on your behalf to ensure that you are acting in accordance with the law before signing a lease. If the contract specifies that responsibility lies with the agent, then they must comply with all obligations set out in the 1998 Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations as if they were lessor. If they cannot use a participation code or immigration documents, they may be able to use other documents to prove their right to rent, including those who arrived in the UK under the Windrush program. Landlords (or their leasing agents) must check if all adults (i.e., over 1 year old) have permission to use the rental property as their primary home.